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Love is a funny thing. It captures your heart and can leave you feeling weak at the knees. If you are here you probably are thinking about marriage, engaged or maybe you just tied the knot. Whatever your circumstance is, here are 16 crucial things you need to be doing in your first year of marriage.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about feelings for a minute. Not just any feelings, but those lovey dovey ones that leave you feeling all sorts of butterflies and shooting stars. We have all had them and maybe you are still in that “honeymoon stage” where everything seems so perfect and like nothing else matters.
Life carries on and marriage progresses and even though those feelings might not always be booming every minute of the day, your love can still grow stronger and you learn and grow together as a couple, through the journey of married life.
That first year of marriage can hold unexpected things along with ups and downs of figuring out how to navigate real life and a new roommate.
1. You must practice communication
Communication is vital in a healthy marriage. It really is one of the key components to a happy, strong relationship. Learning how to communicate with one another that is effective and open will do wonders for your marriage.
Hopefully, you and your husband already have established some kind of communication so far. If you haven’t, I urge you to make it a priority. Poor communication can wreak all sorts of havoc. It creates misunderstanding, hurt feelings and frustration.
You MUST communicate.
I am not saying you have to master communication in your first month of marriage or even your first year, heck I am still working on perfecting my communication skills with my husband after 6 years. But I am saying it is something you need to be constantly aware of and striving to improve.
Being open and receptive to each other will only result in a happier marriage.
I hate to break it to you, but news flash, men don’t know how to read minds. For some strange reason we as women think they do and that can create all kinds of problems.
From the beginning establish clear communication rules with each other. Always be transparent in your thoughts, feelings, fears, wants and desires and approach each situation with an open mind.
2. Make goals and dream together
I think every one of us has dreams. Or have goals and accomplishments we want to obtain. Those are great things. I feel like they can help us be optimistic, determined and dream big.
Share those dreams with one another. Remember you are married now so you get to build a life together. That means achieving those things as a couple.
Create goals as a couple, write things down and it is OK to dream a little on the big side. Creating goals, big or small, can draw you closer together.
It is definitely still important to still have individual goals and dreams but it id also so important to have them as a team as well. You are the authors for your future together, so make every step of the way count.
3. Continue to date each other
Just because you are no longer “boyfriend and girlfriend” or your engagement turned into marriage that doesn’t mean dating stops.
Dating is a forever deal. You always need to date your spouse, strengthen your relationship and grow together in deeper love. Marriage is like a plant, if you don’t continue to nourish it, it will become weak, limp and then die.
I know life becomes busy and when you are both working jobs and rushing from one thing to the next, finding time to go on a date seems impossible. But it is so so important.
You must find time to still date. Whether it be a movie night at home or a drive in the countryside.
Do all you can to set good dating habits in your first year of marriage because I promise it will serve you forever.
Here are 11 unique date night ideas you won’t find anywhere else!
4. Avoid letting insignificant things cause arguments
Once again, another news flash. You and your husband are going to have disagreements. You may not always agree and there might be times where you have little arguments or moments of contention. And that’s ok!
Side note, this is why good communication is so vital!
The best piece of advice I can give is don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t allow silly little things to turn into a big argument. If you do, you’ll have something to look back on and laugh at!
When my husband and I were first married, I remember we had this HUGE argument. To think about it now, it is actually quite comical because it was so dumb. It was all over a casserole and the fact my husband put hot sauce on it.
Being an English girl, hot sauce isn’t a staple food like it is here and to me, I thought that was the worst thing he could do to my homemade casserole. We obviously both had different opinions and something so small created a big problem.
Don’t worry, we worked it all out in the end and now we have a good laugh about it.
Of course, you are going to have little tiffs here and there. You are newlyweds trying to figure this whole thing out. There will be things that he does that probably will drive you crazy and vice versa, but here’s the thing, if you can just keep the bigger picture in mind, that hot sauce and casserole are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Practice good communication skills and try your best to work through any issues. You’ll get good at it and before you know it you have a system down that works for the both of you.
5. Create your own traditions
This one might seem silly, but it is so crucial as a married couple. You and your husband both came from COMPLETELY different families. Even if your families share similar traits and likenesses, they are still different.
Your own personal families growing up probably had certain traditions and ways of doing things. I can guarantee you can think of some quirky, funny, silly, or unique traditions your family did growing up. And I bet your husband has his own list of things too.
Those things are great. When you grow up, move out and find your own partner, you then need to create a life with them.
By all means, merge some traditions. Share things you loved to do growing up and see which ones you want to add to your own family. The key is to create some new ones together, as a married couple.
When you have your own little kiddos running around you guys will be the bearer of those fun traditions. Combine some traditions from each side of your family AND then make some new ones.
This will also evolve over time, not just in your first year of marriage. When you start adding to your family of two it becomes even more exciting.
6. Find the balance of compromise
Compromising covers a lot of aspects but is a pretty important piece to marriage. It may mean a large compromise or maybe just a small one, but it is something you will have to do throughout your married life.
Don’t worry, it’s not all bad. Sometimes you might be on the upside a bit and other times it will be your hubby. And sometimes you might meet in the middle for a more equal compromise.
There aren’t really any hard or fast rules to this, but just know you are going to have to do it.
Getting married may seem like it will hold this perfect picture 24/7, but in reality, it just doesn’t. Life happens and there will be many situations and moments where you will have to compromise.
Maybe compromise comes into play when planning a vacation or spending the holidays with different family members, you or your husband’s social life, or dividing up household chores. I am sure at some point you will experience some compromise with your spouse.
Now there is a catch to this, that is very IMPORTANT!
Compromise DOES NOT mean giving up your hopes, wants, dreams, and desires. Nor should it be that way for your husband. You still need to always work as a team and have a “we” mindset instead of a “me” mindset.
Ultimately you want to be working and living in harmony with one another. You don’t want compromise if it will lead to resentment. That is not the answer here at all. Try to be creative and put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Sometimes compromise means just coming up with creative ways to meet each other’s needs while maybe being a little flexible in the end result.
7. Learn your husbands love language and personality traits
Maybe you already have the answers to both of these, which is awesome! Knowing what ways “love” speaks to your spouse the most, it is really helpful in developing a stronger connection and deeper love.
If you are unsure what a love language is, check out Gary Chapman’s book. It is a super fast read, with so much insight. You will also probably be able to figure out what your love language is too.
You can share these things with your husband so you can better understand one another and be able to more fully meet each other’s needs.
Even though you probably know your husband pretty well, everyone has a different personality and some things might work great for you and not so much for your husband. We all think differently and have different ways of learning.
Study your husband, figure out how you can best complement him and grow stronger as a couple.
If you are looking for any gift ideas for your husband here are 5 meaningful gifts for him (that involve the 5 love languages).
8. Make decisions together
Life is FULL of decisions. But guess what? You now have a lifelong partner to make decisions with. Making decisions together is crucial and a great way to start off your marriage.
Whether it is financial decisions, babymaking ones, where you are going to live, jobs or weekend plans, making decisions together creates harmony.
Obviously, you don’t need to make every waking decision together. Like what you make for dinner (although I do like my hubby’s input sometimes) or what to wear or other small things like that.
Try to keep each other in loop and involve one another in the different decisions you will encounter.
Maybe your husband wants to have a weekend fishing or hunting, or you want a girl’s night out, those things are needed but just talk with each other first.
You might both have different everyday schedules so keeping each other informed is a great thing to practice. Making sure you are both on the same page and being courteous and transparent with each other is key.
9. Have alone time
I know you probably want to spend every waking minute together or at least that is how I felt during our dating time and engagement.
As we entered into our first year of marriage, I still mostly felt that way. When you’re crazy in love with someone that seems kind of a given, BUT it is important to also have some alone time.
Nourishing your own wants and needs is healthy and needed for a healthy marriage. I am not necessarily meaning you need to go on long vacation trips without each other, I am simply meaning schedule self-care time away from each other occasionally.
You might have different hobbies, interest or passions, and you don’t want to lose those. Time alone can be a great way to develop those areas and recharge your battery while doing your favorite hobby.
The point I am trying to make is you need to have some space to yourself here and there. Even if it’s for just a few minutes.
This doesn’t mean you don’t want to spend time together; it just simply means you are nourishing your own self, filling your cup and meeting some of your needs, to be the best version of you.
10. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries early off in your marriage is really helpful. Boundaries between your new family of two and parents on either side will help you and your husband develop your own family unit and start to see what that looks like.
This task alone can help you and your husband always be on the same page and avoid frustration or resentment.
You are both on your own journey of life now, as a couple. Along the way you will get all kinds of help and advice, so be grateful for that. Just remember to keep healthy boundaries with other extended family members.
11. Try not to fix him but work on YOU instead.
I hope I’m not the only one who struggles with this one. Sometimes we tend to always want to fix the other person instead of trying to work on ourselves.
You can’t change someone else, but you can change yourself. You can control your reactions and feelings.
There are things your husband is going to do in that first year of marriage (well your whole marriage for that matter) that might just drive you crazy, but instead of trying to fix him, work on something you can change.
I am sure there are things that you do or are going to do that will make him crazy too. Refrain from fixing each other, and instead strengthen one another and work on your own issues.
Communicate and figure out how you can better meet each other’s needs.
12. Always be on the same team
Remember as husband and wife you are on the same team. You are rooting and cheering for each other and are teammates through the journey of life.
If my husband and I ever run into a disagreement or are upset with one another, I just remind myself that we are in this together. Remembering you are the same team helps put everything into perspective.
If you are defensive and reluctant to be there for one another, your team will suffer, and marriage will be a constant uphill battle.
13. Understand every marriage is individual
You always hear the term “couple goals” and while it is good to have goals, it is not good to think your marriage will fit someone else’s mold. Every marriage is completely different and unique. You shouldn’t create your marriage to be something it’s not.
It is great to have goals, or other people to look up to but you have to remember that your marriage is yours. Not your best friends or your neighbors.
While someone else’s marriage may seem perfect, you are probably only seeing the good stuff they share on social media. Worry about your own marriage and live it. Design a system that works for you and your spouse.
Marriage is ever-evolving and you will learn and grow together, just don’t get hung up on other people’s so-called “perfect picture”!
14. Remember your spouse is your #1 priority
Marriage is really a selfless act. Making sure your spouse is your number #1 priority will serve you well. And you should be his. Marriage is a commitment of love, devotion, and selflessness.
Your mom, best friend, aunt or co-worker cannot take any priority over your husband. Neither should your career, hobbies, interest or other family members. Your husband needs to be at the tippy top of that priority list. Do your best to meet his needs and be there for him.
15. Accept that the first year of marriage is hard
Now I don’t want to come across as a Debbie Downer, that is not my intention here, Trust me. I am not saying marriage is just terrible and you will wish you never did it. To be quite frank, marriage is the complete opposite and is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I just want to transparent and honest with the fact it isn’t always easy. But life never is, right?!
Particularly in that first year of marriage, it can definitely prove to be tricky and not as easy as some may believe it to be.
Adjusting to life with someone else is a complete change, along with that, newlyweds often don’t have a surplus of money and juggling work, responsibilities, bills to pay and a new chapter of life can become overwhelming and stressful.
Dating and engagement life is just different to real married life. It just is. Merging your own separate lives together, along with careers, finances, family, expenses and all the other realities of life can be a challenge.
Accepting there will be some challenges along the way will help you be better able to deal with them. Don’t get bogged down by the little hiccups, just take every day one step at a time and stick together and you will make it just fine.
Life keeps on going and sometimes it might feel like a freight train you can’t seem to catch. But remember you aren’t the only driver; you have the best co-pilot you would ever want.
Marriage is a gift, and it is something I am forever grateful for. No, we don’t have a perfect marriage, but we are always trying to improve and strengthen it. And as each anniversary passes by, I see how far we have come.
Marriage isn’t something you will master in that first year and no matter how long you have been married for, all of these things apply to whatever stage you may be in.
How long have you been married for? Which things do you think will help your relationship with your husband the most?